Young Alumni Award 2016: Susan M. Branch ’99

Susan M. Branch ’99 of Charlotte received the Appalachian State University Alumni Association’s Young Alumni Award Oct. 21, 2016. The Young Alumni Award honors individuals under age 40 for their exceptional service to the university and career accomplishments.

Branch is vice president at Ciena Capital, LLC in Charlotte, where she manages a distressed commercial loan portfolio and lender litigation matters.

In this video, she recounts the many opportunities she had as a student leader and the importance of giving back “to a place that’s given me so much.”


Susan Branch: I came to be a student at Appalachian. I came up here a lot when I was younger, I learned how to ski at Beech Mountain and attended some football games, a couple of concerts on campus. I didn’t really see Appalachian until I was a senior in high school and I came up to visit a friend that was a freshman here. I was just in awe by the beauty of the mountains, campus and the fresh air and was excited when I got my acceptance letter, I was ready to be a Mountaineer.

So my experience when I got up here, I wanted to take advantage of everything that App had to offer. I got involved from day one. I applied for the Black Student Association advisory board and they introduced me to other folks. Then I joined Lady’s Elite freshman year -- it is a female student service organization on campus. So I had a really great experience. I would say that definitely my most cherished organization and one that is still deep in my heart is I pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha up here, Omicron Kappa Chapter. It was a great chance for me. I was lucky to be elected president of the chapter, it was quite an experience. I had a great time and it was definitely my most cherished memories. The Student Union is an important place on campus for me. It is where I spent a lot of time studying for exams. I sent my very first email ever from the computer lab on the second floor.

I specifically chose the Multicultural Center to film here because this was a safe place and a welcoming place. A place where I could connect with other students of color. A place where we could have forums and discussions about different things that affected us on campus. It is really nice to be back in this center and I’m glad to see that it is still welcoming and a safe place for students of color here today. I was raised, my parents taught me to give back to the community that you live in and that gives so much to you and I. that’s how I feel about Appalachian. Whether it’s my time, talent or treasure, I want current Mountaineers and future Mountaineers to have even better opportunities that I had when I was here. Being this year’s recipient of the Young Alumni Award means so much because this university means so much to me. I am thankful to the Alumni Council for the honor. I thank my parents for instilling in me the want to give back and how important it is to give back to a place that has given me so much. I’m happy to serve. I don’t do it for the recognition, but this is definitely an honor.

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